Sometimes doing it yourself (DIY) is a sensible approach—there’s no need to call a contractor to patch a nail hole in a wall. But other times—like redoing a bathroom or building an addition on your house—you can quickly get in over your head if you try to go it alone.
The same common-sense approach applies to ediscovery: some jobs are easier than others. And while you might be able to extract relevant, discoverable content from a collaboration application like Slack without a specialized solution, that approach introduces a few substantial risks.
Hanzo and the Association of E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS) ran a survey this fall to learn how corporate legal teams and law firms handled collaboration data from platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Chat. We produced a report of the results and also hosted a webinar discussing the findings, “The State of Collaboration Data and Corporate Readiness: Benchmark Survey Results.” We were surprised to learn that around 40 percent of Slack users and approximately 20 percent of Teams users are taking a DIY approach to preserve collaboration content. About another 10 percent on each platform reported manually searching through their collaboration content and taking screenshots to preserve relevant content.
If you’re one of those DIYers, here are five significant risks you’re taking with your collaboration content.
1) Not identifying, preserving, and collecting all relevant data—in its original form, without alterations—from your collaboration platform.
There’s a wealth of potentially discoverable data in organizational Slack channels and other collaboration platforms, especially now that more organizations support remote work. Whether it’s internal employee communications that relate to a claim of workplace discrimination, team discussions that could shed light on the safety of a recently released product, or proof of who invented a product that a departed employee is now claiming as her own intellectual property, organizations need to be able to quickly and efficiently search through their collaboration platforms, identify potentially relevant and responsive information, and preserve that information for later use.
The sheer volume of messages in our collaboration platforms and the complexity and diversity of data types they contain complicates the entire discovery process. You may be interested in messages, but you may also need to preserve and review linked or attached files, emojis, GIFs, and other integrated application content. Or suppose the messages have been edited or deleted—can you capture both the original text and any modifications? Even if you “only” need the messages, you still need a way to identify the relevant ones in the context of an ever-evolving conversation that may unfold over dozens of lines of text. Of course, you need to preserve and collect that information without any alterations or degradation if you have any hope of using it in court. DIY solutions may not be up to the challenge.
2)Ending up with data that you can’t readily export into your review tool.
You may be able to use the built-in tools within Slack to export data, but will you end up with something you can decipher? Standard Slack exports are in the JSON file format, which presents the raw text and a wealth of metadata about when and how the message was sent. That means a single line of text can take several pages to print out. Will you be able to plug that export directly into your review platform or pass it along to your review team? If not, how will you translate the JSON export into something reviewable? Bear in mind that you’ll have to do this translation process for every message — and there may be tens of thousands of lines of relevant, discoverable text. How scalable is your solution?
3) Not being able to authenticate the resulting data.
Speaking of scalability, how will you authenticate your DIY results? You may have decided that at this point, you don’t have enough discoverable information in Slack or another collaboration platform to justify the expense of a dedicated, forensically-sound preservation and collection tool. You may think that screenshots or a DIY solution are proportional to the value of your organization’s information in Slack. But suppose you can’t authenticate the data you’re pulling from a collaboration platform. In that case, it won’t do you any good in court—and at some point, you may realize that you’ve got not just relevant but dispositive, essential information that you have no way to preserve or collect defensibly.
4) Having to troubleshoot and maintain your DIY tool constantly.
If you go the DIY route, how will you keep up with maintenance on your solution? Sure, you can build a solution that “talks” to Slack through its application programming interface (API), but any time that API is updated or revised, you’re going to need to update your tool too. That means you’ll need to continuously monitor whether your solution is working as expected and regularly invest time and money in making adjustments. Plus, you won’t be in tune with Slack’s development cycle, which means you’re not going to get a heads-up warning before there’s a change in the API. You’ll just have to hope it doesn’t happen at the worst possible time.
5) Spending more time and money on your DIY tool than you would on a purpose-built solution.
Each of these risks introduce additional time and effort that you’re going to have to invest in using your DIY solution and updating it. In the end, you could well find that you’re spending more on your internal tool—and getting less in return—than you would for a dedicated solution that’s maintained and updated by a vendor who specializes in collaboration content.
How Hanzo Can Help
A professionally purpose-built Slack preservation tool—like Hanzo Hold—mitigates all of these risks. With powerful search features, it can help you rapidly identify, preserve, and collect every bit of relevant, discoverable information, without degradation or alteration, including message edits and deletions and all forms of attachments or in-line reactions.
Ready to learn more? Contact us to schedule a demonstration of Hanzo Hold.